Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma (68) passed away on Thursday morning. He suffered a heart attack.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced the news of his demise in the Lok Sabha when it was convened. Following the condolence, the Lower House was adjourned for the day. The Rajya Sabha too adjourned for the day at 1pm as a mark of tribute to Sangma.
While expressing grief over Sangma’s passing away, Mahajan said he knew how to run the House with a smile and “I learnt this from him.”
“A man of masses, Sangma strove relentlessly for the amelioration of the marginalised sections,” the Speaker said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the former Speaker’s death.
“Shri PA Sangma was a self-made leader whose contribution towards the development of the Northeast is monumental. Saddened by his demise…. Shri PA Sangma’s tenure as Lok Sabha Speaker is unforgettable. His down to earth personality & affable nature endeared him to many,” said PM Modi in a series of tweets.
Sangma was a nine-time member of Lok Sabha and the Speaker in the 11th Lok Sabha. He had also held important portfolios in the central government.
He was also the Chief Minister of Meghalaya from 1988 to 1990 and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly from 1990 to 1991.
Sangma was a Congressman who was one of the founding members of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). He was expelled from NCP in July 2012 when he refused to accept his party’s decision to quit the race for India’s President. In January 2013, he had formed the National People’s Party.
Condolences across party lines poured in for Sangma.
“He was a very effective and successful Speaker. It was shocking news because he was quite fit and active. The country has lost a great person who was a champion of North-East’s cause,” said NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
BJP leader and union minister Nitin Gadkari said, “He was my good friend and a great human being. The work he has done as Lok Sabha Speaker will be remembered by the country and Parliament, particularly, the work he did for the development of the North-East. We have lost an ideal speaker of Parliament.”
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said Sangma was liked and admired by all political leaders irrespective of their political difference.
“It’s deeply saddening and shocking news for all of us because he was in the House till two days ago. In fact, he had given his name to speak on the President’s address…He was a very popular figure whatever the political differences people may have had with him, everyone liked and admired him a great deal. He was somebody who was universally liked….India has lost an important leader from the North-East. Somebody who was chief minister at the age of 41,” said Tharoor in praise of Sangma.
Born on September 1, 1947 in village Chapahati in the picturesque West Garo Hills District of Meghalaya, Sangma grew up in the small tribal village and struggled hard to rise in life.
After completing his graduation from St Anthony’s College, he went to Dibrugarh University in Assam for his Masters degree in International Relations. Subsequently, he also obtained a degree in Law.
(With inputs from PTI)